Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Grackles at the Grand Army Plaza

Date: Christmas eve, 2005:
Time: 4:30 pm
Place: Grand Army Plaza - 5th Ave. and 59th St.

A month or more ago I predicted that the large grackle flock outside the Plaza Hotel was about to head south. Well, amazingly, they're still here. Tonight they arrived at 4:35 pm, many hundreds of them, together with a smaller number of starlings.

As I've reported, the flock has moved from the southern stand of pear trees surrounding the Pulitzer Fountain to the northern stand of trees around the shiny bronze statue of William Tecumseh Sherman. Those trees still retain a few wrinkled, shrunken brown leaves. Question: Why did the southern trees lose their leaves a few weeks before the northern trees, though they're the same size and species? My guess: the southern trees get less sun, since they're in the shadow of the tall buildings immediately to their south.

While the influx of birds into the roost trees has heretofore been completely unnoticed by the large number of people milling around the Grand Army Plaza, now that the trees are bare the birds are too conspicuous to remain unobserved. I heard several comments along the lines of "Look at all those birds, Mom."

Tonight at 4:55pm the crowd of birds roosting at the northern trees became too big. About 50 or 75 grackles flew back to the completely bare trees at the fountain end of the plaza and settled there for the night. More people made comments about "all those birds".

12/25: Off to California to visit kids.

1/1/06: Final report:

Grackles Gone.